I started writing about the Theology of the body the other day, summarising an article in this site here. Before delving into the actual audiences the Pope gave on the topic, I want to complete my summary of that article.
As the summary progresses from talking about the body as a reflection of our spirit, we read about the first humans Adam and Eve, and how in their physical differences they were called to LOVE giving themselves to each other in the most complete way that humans are capable of, in sexual union.
The article states:
Not only does their physical communion point to an invisible communion between the man and woman, but it actually shows us that this love, this self-gift, is what we are called to, what we were created for.Pope John Paul uses a term "nuptial meaning of the body" for this gifting of ourselves to each other. As he says the human body from the beginning has the capacity for expressing love, by becoming a gift to another. It is in this gift that man fulfills the meaning of his being and his existence.
The Pope explains that the body speaks a special language through sexual union that must be spoken in truth. Further:
Since the very nature of the conjugal act as designed by God includes both the interpersonal union of the couple as well as the potential for procreation, man and woman cannot contracept their union without violating their dignity as persons and the dignity of the conjugal act itself.The Pope has much to say about how contraception diminishes the person, and how self control is about personal worthiness as outlined here:
If the procreative aspect of conjugal union is excluded, then that truth of the person and of the act itself is destroyed. On the outside it may look like the man and woman are completely giving themselves to each other, but in reality they are not since they refuse to accept everything about the other, including his or her fertility. On the other hand, exercising self-mastery and promoting respect for each other and the conjugal act, couples are called to practice responsible parenthood and in this way act in a manner truly worthy of the person.He also speaks very highly of celibacy, something about which he knows from personal experience. He calls it a vocation, and act of self giving. In what must be considered contrary, if not radical thinking in our sexualised world, this point is made:
Contrary to what many people think, celibacy is not a repression of one’s sexuality. Rather, celibate men and women are called to use their sexual energy to make a gift of themselves to others in different ways: in service, in evangelization and spiritual parenthood, to name only a few.The Pope tells us not to let lust burden us. Where we consider in this day and age lust to be almost virtuous, the Pope sees it differently, as does the Catholic Church for whom he speaks. He claims that our lusts can only be overcome by the grace that God gives us, and upon which we must act. It is in the redemptive act of Jesus Christ that we can rest to overcome our lustful thoughts and feelings, to become a person true to his/her humanity. For he says that Christ does not condemn us for our lusts, but rather calls us to purity.
In conclusion, the author of this summary of the Pope's Theology of the Body, Anastasia Northrup has this to say from the Pope's teachings:
Christ appeals to our hearts and calls us to freely choose a life that is in accord with our dignity as persons made in the image and likeness of God! Only in living our true dignity as men and women created in the image of God will we be truly fulfilled, will we be happy in the deepest possible sense, because this is the life that we were designed and created to live from the beginning.Wow, when I look at my lusts over the years, and the urges to think lustful thoughts and view lustful images day by day, I am confronted with lust as an affront to the dignity with which God created me, and calls me to enter into.